Posts Tagged ‘rockwell’

For a long time I had a hard time calling myself a “woodworker”.  I have no formal training and no certificates or diplomas to support such a claim.  So to go around saying “I’m a legitimate woodworker” just because I pushed some tools through wood before (or vice versa) felt like an insult to those who truly put in the time and effort to become proficient in the craft.  But I really enjoyed working with wood and hand tools and building furniture, so I continued working and learning until eventually I felt comfortable acknowledging that yes, I am in fact a “woodworker” or “furniture maker”, etc.

On the other hand, I was formally trained as a mechanical engineer which included working with various metal lathes, mills, and other equipment, all of which I enjoyed using, but since graduating college I’ve had little to no access to such equipment.  So unlike woodworking, where I had tools and a lack of skill, when it came to working with metal I had skill and no tools.  Until now that is.  Being partner in a toolmaking business finally gave me a good excuse to purchase a metal lathe, a dream lathe really, and set it up on the non-woodworking side of my shop.  I even have space for a mill to go next to it someday, if I can figure out how to get one down there.

Anyway, the ability to make custom parts, tooling, prototype hardware, or anything else I feel like making is a huge benefit for the business and I love being able to put my metal working background to use again.  So without further reading (yawn), here’s a few shots of the most recent addition to my shop.  And because every lathe seems to operate a little differently, I included some basic descriptions of what each lever and dial is used for.

Rockwell 11×36 Lathe

Clean, level, and ready for work.

The carriage assembly with the cross and compound slide. The bottom lever engages the auto feed. The middle lever selects between auto-feeding the carriage, cross slide, or screw chaser. And if you’re in screw chasing mode, the lever on the right engages the drive when the correct number is aligned.

Detailed shot of the headstock. The lever on the left is for the auto feed. 3 positions for forward drive, backwards, or neither (head spins only, not the auto feed screw). The two tumblers (levers) at the bottom change the gearing for different feed rates. The large handle on the upper-right area near the chuck is for selecting direct drive, back gearing, neutral, or locked.  Additionally, spindle itself can also be driven forward or reverse.

The drive selector lever can be used for driving the spindle directly from the motor belts (position shown), putting the spindle in neurtal so it spins freely (if you need to rotate a part around for inspecting, laying something out, etc), locking the spindle (typically for chuck removal), or driving the spindle via the back gears.

The back gears cut the spindle RPM and increase the torque by a 6:1 ratio. This is desirable for screw cutting, knurling, or high-torque applications. The lever also allows for forward or reverse drive of the auto feed screw or it can be left neutral so only the spindle is turning.

Adjusting the RPM of the lathe is as simple as turning the wheel. Notice there are two sets of numbers on the dial, one for direct drive and one for drive through the back gears (1/6 the RPM)

One last detail is the custom drawers the previous owner had installed. Beautiful work and it adds plenty of storage.

A quick shot of my main measuring and inspecting drawer.

And here’s the tooling that came with the lathe. I’m sure I’ll be adding to this over time, but there’s plenty here to get started with.  The other drawers are largely empty right now, storing only a few miscellaneous items, some rags, and the manual for the lathe.

And if the drawers aren’t enough, I still have the default drawer. Maybe for some extra chucks or collets down the line.

That’s the jist of it.  And if you noticed that chart on the right of the second lathe picture, it’s an extremely handy Starrett drilling and tapping chart.  It’s the simplest, most complete one I’ve ever used so if you’ve never seen it before, download it here.

If you have any questions or are looking for the manual for this lathe feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.  Merry Christmas. -WMT


In:In the Shop

Comments Off on The Bandsaw Has Landed

A couple months ago I picked up my first (and presumably last) bandsaw for my shop.  I’ve spent the last decade or so getting by with jigsaws, bow saws, and avoiding certain work that I wasn’t willing to tackle without a bandsaw (resawing 12″ boards for example).  I could have bought something small as a temporary solution, but I hate putting money into something I won’t really want to use.  I could have bought a beefy new saw, but $2,000-$3,000 seemed like a lot of cash for an imported saw and I got several conflicting reports about the performance of Jet, Powermatic, Grizzly, Laguna, etc.  In the end, I found a vintage Rockwell 20″ bandsaw a little over an hour from my house.  It was in great shape, all American made, heavy castings, a large table, 20″ throat… it even came with the fence and miter gauge.  All I had to do was get it home.

That last sentence was not nearly as simple to do as it was to type.  Nevertheless, after about two hours of trial-and-error we had the saw loaded and headed home.  To get the saw off the truck, we backed it into my garage, ran some rope up to the rafters and around some pulleys, then had three guys raise the saw slightly (it’s around 650 lbs) while the truck was driven out from underneath.  The saw was lowered to the floor where it sat for a few days.  Eventually I convinced five friends to come over and help me wheel my new toy around the house, down a steady slope (which was slightly muddy), and into my walk-out basement door which leads into my shop.

The saw in its final resting place.

I found the a downloadable copy of the manual (which you can download here: Delta_Rockwell bandsaw manual) and went through just about every part.  There were a few miscellaneous tune-ups to make, but nothing major.  I did upgrade the worn steel blade guides with new ceramic guides.

New guides from SpaceAge Ceramics.

Swapping out the side guides

One minor issue I have is how far the fence rails stick out past the saw.  This isn’t common with bandsaws today, but that’s how this saw works.  I’d like to find (or make) a shorter set of rails and keep the long set as a back-up in case a particularly wide cut needs to be made (which I doubt will happen often).  But for now, I’ll have to live with the fact that the rails stick into my walk way slightly… this also presents a safety issue for my daughters who are often in the shop.  The rails are at the perfect give-your-kid-a-concussion height.

Saw doors opened and fence in place.  Notice how the rails obscure a good portion of my general path… not ideal.

Once everything was cleaned up, I had a friend CNC a new aluminum throat plate.  The old one wasn’t original, didn’t fit well, and was warped.

Old vs new throat plate

Top view of the new throat plate.

The last thing I did was install a blade and align the table.

All squared up.

The largest blade (1″) and one of the smallest (3/16″ minimum) blades the saw can handle. 141″ blade length.

Now that I’ve had a few months to work with the saw I can confidently say I have no regrets in my decision to go for a vintage saw.  This thing eats lumber like it’s not even there, here are a few examples:

Curved cuts are a breeze.

4″-12″ diameter logs sliced up with ease.

Milling a log into lumber…

…the resulting surface was flat with less than 1/32″ variation over its length.

All that remains is to replace the worn out fence faces, I’m thinking walnut.